Greece's PM promises full investigation of deadly fire

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's prime minister vowed Tuesday to have experts investigate all aspects of the country's deadliest forest fire in decades and said the seaside resort areas devastated by the blaze will be rebuilt to higher standards.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras led a meeting about the fire with ministers and regional officials in Lavrion, a seaside town about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the areas burned. At least 91 people died in the July 23 blaze.

"My promise, from the first day of this tragedy, was that the 'how' and the 'why' will be investigated in depth and in all its dimensions," Tsipras said. "Nothing will be covered up in the name of any vested interests."

The prime minister reiterated that illegal buildings and fencing erected in forests, on coastlines and in creeks would be demolished. Government officials have blamed unauthorized construction for contributing to the wildfire's death toll.

Experts have pointed to the narrow streets, numerous dead-ends and no clear path to the sea as a factor in the destruction wrought in Mati. The coastal town was the worst-affected by the fire, and poor planning has been blamed as one cause of the deaths of trapped residents.

"Uncontrolled building which threatens human lives can no longer be tolerated. Anything that destroys forests and coastlines, anything that is a danger to human life, will be torn down," Tsipras said. "It is our duty toward our dead, but most of all it is our duty toward the future generations."

A judicial investigation already is underway, and more than 20 people have testified so far. Prosecutors handling the probe have requested transcripts of radio communications between police and firefighters. The investigation is expected to take at least a month.

Tsipras' government has come under intense criticism for its handling of the blaze, particularly after it denied mishandling the emergency response. The public order minister, Nikos Toskas, argued that despite much soul-searching, he had been unable to identify any major mistakes.

Following relentless denunciations from opposition parties, Toskas resigned Friday. Senior officials under his supervision followed suit over the weekend.

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